New Mini-Segment – Church Guest: Fellowship of the Parks

25 04 2010

Since Marla and I have stepped down from our position at Alliance and have 6 weeks until we leave Texas we’ve decided it would be beneficial for us to check out some of the surrounding churches and see what they were doing.  Every Monday morning I will post thoughts and observances from our experience at one of the churches. 

For today’s post I will be reviewing  Fellowship of the Parks, which we attended on the 18th of April:

If you’re anything like me, you drive by a building, and wonder to yourself, “what does it look like in there?”  Thats what I thought about the building for Fellowship of the Parks (FOTP).  When you drive by it seems like a good size campus (meaning not too large to lose yourself in, but not too small that you couldn’t fit) with a decent amount of parking. 

 However, with Sunday morning parking, things aren’t always as they seem.  The parking lots were full from the previous service, and as Marla and I arrived for the second service we were a little lost on which way the traffic was flowing.  They had orange cones set up but no signs or attendants to assist you in the flow of traffic.  To be fair it was raining and I believe I saw the attendants walking people to the doors with umbrellas. 

We finally found a spot and headed in, before we could get to the foyer we had at least 2 people a piece greet us and say hello to us.  Even as a church goer for all my life, having someone say hello with a smile calmed the “I wonder what this is going to be like” nerves. 

Once we got in we were pleasantly surprised with the interior.  From what I can tell.  It was a simple interior design, meaning they didn’t really draw attention to the walls with anything flashy (at least that I can remember).  They had kiosks set up for first time guest, children’s check in, and something else that I didn’t really pay attention to.  The thing that caught my eye the most was the free Starbucks coffee!  They didn’t have some one pour it for you, they had coffee pump containers (what are those things called btw?) and small 8 oz styrofoam cups. 

 Since Marla and I didn’t know anybody we made our way out of the crowded foyer and into the auditorium to find our seats and get settled; much to our surprise it was a lot smaller than we had imagined.  But here is why that was awesome: you didn’t feel like you were a small person in a large room, and it had that sense of intimacy that people complain about loosing as the church gets bigger

What was even more impressive was their stage.  It wasn’t big by any standard, but it was perfect size platform for the roomThe guitars and drums didn’t take up the stage, nor did their cords.  To my left (stage right) they had the wireless mic stand with two mics.  Then further back, against the wall, they had the electric guitar and bass.  to my right (stage left) they had the drums towards the back in a sound cage and then an acoustic guitar in front of it.  Because they kept their instruments to the side there weren’t cords strewn everywhere across the stage.  Oh, and the best part NO PLANTS ANYWHERE!  From an outsider looking in, it seems their motto for their stage on sunday morning is “keep it simple”  (or at least stream-lined). 

I decided to venture back out to the foyer and get myself a cup of that free delicious Starbucks coffee.  As I got my cup and headed towards the door the thought occurred to me to look for a sign that might ask me to refrain from taking my delicious beverage into their sweet auditorium.  Unfortunately I saw no sign.  I asked one of the older, cordial door attendants if it was ok for me to take my coffee into the auditorium and she smiled and said, “of course sweetie, go right ahead.”  SHE CALLED ME SWEETIE! 

And before I forget, their handout they give you as you walk into the auditorium was a perfect size.  About 8″ in width and about 6.5″ in height, it was the perfect size to fit into your journal, Bible, or for you to fold it up and stick it in your back pocket.  The cover had their current series graphic with the title of the days lesson “Prayer.”  Opening it up there were 6 separated sections.  On the left they had: New to Fellowship of the Parks, where they explained what they were about.  Podcast and Recent Sermons, which informed you where you could check out other messages if you liked todays; it also had next weeks lesson title and synopsis.  On the right side of the booklet they had: Order of Service, this was cool because you knew what all was going to happen and as a guest you didn’t have to guess.  Life Quest Classes, which seems to be their system on informing people what they believe as a church, what they believe is right for church members, and helping church members get to a place of purpose.  Life Groups, this informed us of what a life group was as well as how we could get involved with one.  Lastly, Child Dedication:: Mother’s Day Weekend, this obviously announced there would be child dedications on Mother’s Day.  There were also two inserts within the pamphlet.  One was the sermon notes with fill in the blanks, and the other was a folded piece of paper listing the different activities and dates for the different ministries of the church.  On the back it gave you the Children’s ministry and Student ministry names and purpose statements followed by office hours and contact information.  The reason I talked so much on this is because I wanted you to realize how impressed I was with this.  This little pamphlet was my window into FOTP.  Had it been cluttered or awkward I wouldn’t have cared to really look at it, but because it was so well done I checked it out as I sat down and before I got my coffee knew what the church did.

The music worship service was great!  Now a lot of people say, “we have great worship.”  What they are really saying is that our band is awesome!  FOTP’s worship band was awesome, but their worship was even more amazing.  The word “seamless” is what I would use to describe it.  When the countdown clock hit 0:00 they were ready, inviting us to worship with them.  All of their songs had to do with the thought of the sermon.  The monologue and scripture read in between was rehearsed and related to the songs being sung and the sermon.  We stood the entire music worship service and by the time I was wanting to sit down it was over and we were asked to be seated. 

The message was trim, meaning there was not a lot of fat or fluff.  It was Biblical, simple, and practical.  My favorite part was at the end of each point on prayer the pastor gave a practicle to do for the week.  That week we were all challanged to pray for someone we don’t like, pray a completely honest prayer, and pray one completely selfless prayer.  If their life groups teaching is anything like their sermons, this church is not a mile wide and a 1/4 ” deep

Now when we planned on doing this I told Marla I was going to be a visitor.  Meaning I was going to fill out their connection card and be a part of their process.  Before the end of the service when the tithe and offerings were being taken up I was told at least two times where I could find a connect card, when to have it filled out by, and where to place it.  Thursday we recieved a hand written note from the pastor thanking us for coming, along with a $5 dollar starbucks card!  Real quick here is what the gift card says to me.  FOTP values me as a visitor and wants to be a blessing to me.  Even as material as it may seem, it was a blessing.  I haven’t bought a good cup of coffee in a month, this was huge to me.  For all they knew, I could be hurting finacnially like everybody else (which we are) and they want to serve their community.  “If i’m not a part of your church don’t expect me to care about the church’s needs when they don’t care about mine” (thats a very true view of un-churched guest).  We also recieved another letter thaking us for coming and informing us of the upcoming events if we wanted to know more or get involved.  All in all, one of my favorite churches I’ve attended ever!




3 responses

17 05 2010
Church Guest: Northwood Churh « Rock in a Pond

[…] This is the second part of my mini-segement “Church Guest.”  You can find my first post of ”Church Quest” here.  […]

24 02 2012

I’m overjoyed to read your honest opinion about this church. I am a member myself, but at another campus, and I agree with you on your assessment – not because I am a member, but because I had a similar experience to yours, which led to my decision to become a member. I’m glad to see the church holding true to the same values I found when I first started.

25 02 2012
Mason Conrad Stanley

Jason, Fellowship of the Parks was awesome. Marla and I connected well for our first time there.

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